As both a teacher and someone who is recovering from COVID-19, it’s my opinion that all school districts should go to distance learning K-12. Case numbers have recently surged, and already hundreds of families have chosen to protect their kids by switching to distance learning.
Furthermore, many teachers do not agree with decisions to return to in-school learning. Our voices were largely ignored or dismissed in the process.
We are now being asked to teach multiple groups of kids simultaneously with the same number of hours in a day. My department itself has needed another teacher for years as class sizes have risen and resources have shrunk. Yet over the summer, we instead lost our dedicated computer lab! And we are being asked to teach an online curriculum!
Teachers across this nation are stressed and scared. A recent survey showed close to a third of Minnesota teachers have considered quitting. This is not coincidental and our current models are not sustainable.
I vehemently disagree with the bumper-sticker slogan “Facts Not Fear.” It reduces the pandemic (which has in this country alone killed nearly 230,000 people) to an “either/or” argument, demonstrating bias and faulty logic. It also ignores the reality of our most vulnerable community members: the elderly, those with underlying health issues, the un- or under-insured, and populations of color.
They keep telling us that numbers reveal it is not spreading at school, but at other social events. What other social event puts hundreds of people in one building seven hours a day, four days a week?! We are told contact tracing is being conducted—but they are only tracing people who have been within six feet for 15 minutes or more and/or are not wearing masks.
I have one period with 17 students in class, plus a para and me. And our periods last 90 minutes. The virus doesn't distinguish between six feet and six and a half. It's in our buildings and being spread.
Yet mandates meld into data points; regulations soften to suggestions. Referendums replace a reverence for life.
Due to the coronavirus, our teaching has already switched to mostly an online model. Here, teachers can teach, and students can learn. Safely. And until we are provided with forthright information and needed resources, it is unconscionable to risk student, staff and community lives by having people congregate in schools only to further spread this disease.